KUWAIT: Newly-elected MPs meet at the diwaniya of MP Marzouq Al-Khalifa yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: At least 40 MPs yesterday reconfirmed their commitment to vote for MP Bader Al-Humaidi as the speaker of the newly-elected National Assembly, effectively meaning that incumbent two-time Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem will not be able to lead the Assembly for a third time. Holding their third meeting since election results were announced a week ago at the diwaniya of MP Marzouq Al-Khalifa, the lawmakers did not finalize their candidate for the deputy speaker’s post, but unanimously agreed on MP Osama Al-Shaheen to become the Assembly supervisor.

Opposition MP Hassan Jowhar announced yesterday his intention to contest the deputy speaker’s post, joining MP Ahmad Al-Shuhoumi, who is not part of the gathering, and incumbent deputy speaker Essa Al-Kandari. MPs Hisham Al-Saleh and Muhannad Al-Sayer declared their support for Jowhar, who requires at least 33 votes to win.

Thirty-six lawmakers attended the meeting yesterday but a number of other MPs declared their support, saying they could not attend for personal reasons. The government’s position with its 16 Cabinet ministers, who can vote, will make no difference unless at least eight MPs change their mind on the inaugural day of the Assembly. Ghanem, who has been speaker since 2013, has not made any comment on the issue since he retained his seat as a member of parliament.

MP Osama Al-Munawer said the meeting reconfirmed the lawmakers’ support for Humaidi and discussed options for voting during the session. Munawer said the meeting is sending a message to the political leadership that around 90 percent of MPs are supporting one candidate for the speaker’s post.

A number of MPs stressed they will push for resolution of several issues, topped by the plight of tens of thousands of bedoons or stateless people, and issuing legislation to offer a general amnesty for a number of activists, some of whom are living in exile. Others said they will stress on the need to change the voting system and to press the government to forgive hundreds of millions of dinars in consumer loans for citizens. The new Assembly holds its first meeting on Tuesday.